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Everyone needs routine: eat, sleep, be a healthy kid, repeat

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Young boy posing, wearing his backpack.

Routine is something we all have, whether we admit it or not. We all have our own morning wake-up routine, transportation routes planned, or our bedtime wind-down. It might sound monotonous to think about, but routine actually benefits us in many ways. Having scheduled, planned, and predictable ways of doing everyday tasks takes the thinking out of “What’s next?”

Children and adults both benefit from daily routine. Routines lower stress levels, decrease anxiety, and also improve mental health and sleep. All of these benefits are linked to each other: if you’re less stressed you will sleep better; if you sleep better your mind is sharper; and if your mind is more clear you are more productive - you get the picture! There are physiological benefits from the above too, such as decreased risk of heart disease. Children also benefit from routine because it makes them feel safe, secure, and helps develops independence!

Routine doesn’t have to be cumbersome and should have some flexibility - it can actually be fun and bring your family together! The best way to create a back to school routine is to start before the first day of school. This allows kids to adapt to it, make changes and, most importantly, make it a habit! When creating the routine, include your young ones! Help guide them to make their own healthy choices for the school year, and listen to their feedback! Everyone is different, so what works for some might not work for others!

When planning your kid's school routine be sure to consider the following:

  • Make bedtimes and wake-up times the same times each day and night.
  • Plan for healthy meals and snacks.
  • Plan the same active transportation and safe routes for each daily commute.
  • Let kids engage in physical activities for at least 60 minutes per day.
  • Create after school routines including chores, homework, and fun activities.

(Editor’s note: This article first appeared in Northern Health’s Healthier You – Summer 2018 edition on Healthy Schools. Read the full issue here.)